Conference presentation

Community Engagement and Fire Prevention

Institute of Fire Engineers R&D conference: RE16
November 15, 2016


Despite the increased focus on community fire safety in the last 20 years, marked inequalities in the distribution of dwelling fires throughout society continue to exist. Is there something about the relationship between the most vulnerable communities and the Fire Service, or public services more generally, that impedes the effectiveness of community fire safety work?

Focusing on one deprived urban area with a particularly high rate of accidental dwelling fires, a qualitative, interpretivist approach was used to explore the relationship between citizens and public services. A widespread disinclination to engage with public services emerged, born of many factors. People felt judged, both by service providers and by their peers; they were disillusioned by the apparent inability of services to bring about change in their lives; they were afraid that contact with one service would lead to unwelcome contact with others. In some cases they were simply unaware that a service was available.

Many of these attitudes can be traced back to the way that agencies approach interactions with the public. The presentation will suggest means by which services can redevelop the ways in which they engage with citizens, and thereby potentially improve the outcomes of fire safety interventions.


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